|Subject: Re: Ireland tips|
Your planned travel takes you to one of our favorite places. In fact two of our children spent time during their junior year at college in Galway. (I would never claim that they studied in Galway - too many pubs to be explored!) There are a wide variety of places to stay, and I would definitely suggest staying in the city for the fun of visiting pubs during the evening and walking home. The Great Southern Hotel is the (expensive) historic grand old hotel. For a more moderate choice, Jury's Inn is a nice larger hotel within walking distance of all the sights. Brennan's Yard Hotel is smaller, with simple rooms - can be a bit noisy. The Spanish Arch Hotel - quite close to Jury's - is a bit quirky, but fun. As for restaurants, you can't go wrong at McDonoughs. We have a a wonderful dinner at Nimmo's by the Spanish Arch. We have also enjoyed KC Blakely's and The Malt House. If you enjoy oysters or smoked salmon, Moran's at the Weir in Kilcolgan (a drive south of town) is a must. As for pubs, Neachtins is great for atmosphere. Busker Brown's and the Quays are large and lively. Across the river (toward the university) you'll find the always friendly Monroe's. Just down a sidestreet is the smaller Taylor's with live music on weekends. Some of the best music is Galway is at the Crane pub - second floor.
To continue north to Mayo, I would take the N59 out of Galway. The scenery through Connemara is beautiful all the way to Clifden - a good spot for lunch. Continuing on the N59 to Leenane, you will pass Kylemore Abbey (always featured on scenic Ireland calendars). Leenane is on beautiful Killary Harbor. If you continue around the head of the harbor, you can take the R335, known as the famine road, through a hauntingly beautiful, desolate landscape to Louisburgh. From here it is a short drive, past the pilgrimage mountain, Croagh Patrick, into the lively market town of Westport. There is a four star hotel on Clew Bay, just outside town, that is located in an old mill, the Atlantic Coast Hotel. In town there is the charming and old (Thackery stayed there in 1848 or so) Railway Hotel. There is also a larger, modern three-star hotel, the Castlecourt. The town is charming, with interesting shops and restaurants. Be sure to visit Matt Molloy's (one of the Chieftans) for a great pub experience.
You can continue on the N59 to the sleepy town of Newport, and continue toward Mulrany and Achill Island. About two miles out of Newport, you will see a sign for Burrushoole Abbey, a beautiful, peaceful ruin on an inlet that was built in 1469. Just a bit further on is Rockfleet Castle, one of the homes of the legendary pirate, Grace O'Malley. In Mulrany, you can branch off on the R319 to Achill Island. This large island is beautiful on a wet day and spectacular on a sunny one. You can then return to the N59 which takes you around the Nephin Beg Mountains and through Ballina to the national road up through Sligo and into Donegal.
Have a wonderful trip.
Winnie In snowy Newport, RI